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The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is part of the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation strategy. The objective of the strategy is to develop the economic, environmental, and social value of Scotland’s water resources. The Hydro Nation Scholars play an important role in supporting this by:

  • Developing understanding of how and where best to develop the value of Scotland's water resources.
  • Focusing on enhancing Scottish capacity in areas of existing research excellence.
  • Providing new research and insights where there are gaps related to water resources in Scotland.

Projects with international elements will be expected to recognise and reflect in their design the key territories set out in the Scottish Government’s International Development Framework. Projects in other territories can be considered, but priority will be given to projects that can demonstrate a clear understanding of recent or current Hydro Nation international activity.

The Programme and the associated graduate school are managed on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Hydro Nation International Centre at the James Hutton Institute and steered by an Executive Group (HNSPEG) drawing on Scotland’s water policy, industry, and academic network.


The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for project topics and then for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes.

Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council) for up to 7 PhD scholarships. Both overseas and domestic students are eligible to apply. Domestic and overseas scholars are defined according to a Scholar's status for University admissions. The funding available will be in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Currently these are:

  • National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2023/24 is £18,662
  • Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2023/24 is £4,712
  • International fees are awarded at the UK research organisation rate

Scholars will be funded for 4 years and all fees and stipend will be covered. The Scholarship will support research-related costs up to a maximum of £10k for four years. Exceptional costs, for example, additional research costs, travel costs and placement costs during the scholarship will be negotiated with the HNSPEG.

Scholars will benefit from specialised programmes provided under the auspices of the Hydro Nation Graduate School.

The scholarship may involve periods of research at a water related institution, such as Scottish Water, the Scottish Government, SEPA, or industry. The HNSPEG will liaise between the applicant and the water organisation to develop this link, following appointment of the Scholar. Please do not contact a placement partner before application.


The following projects are now available for applications:



  • To apply for any of above projects, please visit
  • The projects will be advertised from Monday 13th November 2023 to Wednesday 10th January 2024. Please visit to view the full project adverts and the contact details of the primary supervisor.
  • Applicants are strongly advised to make an informal enquiry about the PhD to the primary supervisor well before the final submission deadline. 
  • Applicants must send a completed application form (available below), their Curriculum Vitae and a covering letter to the primary supervisor by the final submission deadline of 10th January.
  • Eligibility: Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent).
  • Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 7th or 8th February 2024.
  • Although approved for advertisement, this does not mean that the project has been successful in securing the funding from the Scottish Government.
  • PhD candidates for approved advertised projects will be interviewed with recommendations made to the Scottish Government, who will take the final decision on the award of Scholarships.


Summary timetable for recruitment for 2024

Advertisement of Approved Projects

13th November 2023

Deadline for Scholar Applications

10th  January 2024

PhD Scholar Interviews

7th and 8th February 2024

Final Decisions on PhD Scholars

Late February 2024


The HNSP Scholar Application form for the 2024 call can be downloaded here.